This is my entry for Day Five of FTAngstWeek. (While this is a oneshot, it will have a sequel to conclude the story)
Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail, or Inuyasha - which I have drawn inspiration from in this AU.
Blood spread out from his side, soaking his tunic and making him dizzy. The demon was so dazed by the wound to his abdomen; he didn't notice the sluggish trail of blood from his throat. Ebony wings folded into his back and disappeared, unable to support their weight any longer.
Spiraling tattoos from his demonic form faded away, drifting under his skin and leaving him looking human. Horns receded into cherry-pink hair, his chest heaving with the effort it took to keep walking.
He wasn't done yet.
Unfocused eyes caught sight of a small human temple, just beyond the tree line. The demon wasn't used to hoping, but he was certain he just found his salvation from the dragon hunting him.
His only comfort was he had done just as much damage to the fire-breathing lizard. He would be delayed.
Once he made it to the edge of the temple property, he was stopped in his tracks by a protective barrier spell. Humans and their wards. He scoffed at the impudence. Did they believe it could stop him? A scowl darkened his face as he lifted a bloody hand to press in front of him. One push even in his weakened state was all it took to break the spell.
He ignored the stings of the holy magic trying to burn him. Burns already marred his skin, half healed in certain places and ugly in others. The dragon's flames scorched far hotter than whatever this human could conjure.
So he threw open the door to the temple's prayer room, a heavy trail of blood following his dragging movements. Rage and hate burned through the demon, boiling his through his veins and causing steam to rise from his shoulders. Still, he couldn't live off emotion alone, and his knees gave way buckling under his weight.
He collapsed, folding in on himself to protect his injured side. Fangs grit to prevent himself from snarling in pain, holding himself together with all his strength. He was so unaware of his surroundings; the presence of the human girl behind him did not catch his attention until she was standing in front of him.
He froze at the sounds of her footfalls.
No doubt she had felt her wards falling and came to investigate what could have broken them down.
While wards may not have stopped him, Natsu was unsure if he could fight off a priestess in his injured state. Hazy eyes glared at the woman, fangs bared in a warning snarl.
She was unafraid and knelt down in front of him. Hands raised in a gesture of peace. The demon did not believe her nonaggression for one second. In all his centuries of life, he had never met a single holy mage that didn't try to extinguish him on the spot. Humans saw demons as a blight on their world. Demons believed the same towards humans. There could be no co-existing.
"You are injured," The priestess said quietly. Long blond hair fell around her in a shimmering wave. The moon itself gleamed off it, casting a silvery light across her face.
"Let me help you. You cannot treat yourself at this rate, and if you remain stubborn enough to refuse my assistance, you will not live to morning," The woman said with firm patience.
Was this mortal lecturing him?
His indignation made him forget his pain for a moment and he snarled, swiping angry talons at her when she dared to come too close. A flicker of alarm crossed her face for a second when she pulled away just in time to prevent getting gutted.
"You want to bleed out? That is fine by me, but do so outside where you will not stain my temple grounds," The woman said with short anger, "Or did you break my barriers simply to die here from stubbornness?"
The demon glared at her for a long moment, pride warring with his instinct to survive.
Slowly, never taking his eyes off the woman, he relaxed his position and pulled a shaky hand off his bloody side.
The priestess was on him in a second, guiding him to lie down on his back. She made a soft sound of displeasure at the sight of his deep wound and began to cut away his tunic.
Throughout the process, the priestess spoke to him in quiet tones, distracting him from the salve she spread over the wound or the way she threaded his flesh back together. He couldn't help but listen to her as small, light hands worked over his heated skin. Her name was Lucy, a priestess born from the village of Polaris where the celestial mages gathered. Just off the coast of the tiny fishing village of Hargeon.
Why was she telling him all this?
"What is your name m'lord?" Lucy asked, her brown eyes drifting to his face. He was relaxed now, her job finished. The entire time she asked him questions, he had not answered a single one, just listened to her words as she fought to distract him while saving his life.
When it looked like he would not reply again, Lucy gave him a sad smile and stood up to find a blanket to cover him with.
"Etherious," He said before she could venture too far. The woman stopped, turning around and staring at him, "Etherious Natsu Dragneel. I am END."
The smile that flickered across Lucy's face at his admission was brighter than the one before it. It confused the demon why it would make her happy, the intricacies of human behavior a subject he was poorly educated on. Still who was he to judge? As the only human priestess never to try to kill him, and had gone as far to save his life…
… she sparked his curiosity.
"END hm?" Lucy looked over her shoulder at him. She rose, carrying the bloody bowl of water she used to clean him with. Her hand rested at the sliding door and creaked it open.
"I think I prefer Natsu…"
And so she called him Natsu.
For the duration of the time he spent with her, healing slowly over time from the wounds the dragon inflicted on him, she called him by his middle name. It was strange, but he didn't mind. The human could call him by whatever name she liked.
One time when she was changing his bandages, Natsu asked her why she called him that. The priestess lifted her gaze to him and smiled, as if the answer were obvious.
"It is a beautiful name."
When Natsu continued to look confused, not understanding the beauty of something as simple as a name, Lucy tucked the bandage gently to his side and gestured outside.
"Natsu means summer," She pointed at the lush vegetation that grew in the heat. The flowers and birds that swirled in circles overhead. Seeing this registered nothing on his face, she grabbed his wrist with more daring than any human ever possessed and dragged him down to sit with her on the porch. Natsu allowed this more out of surprise than acceptance.
"It is not the season of love and beginnings," Lucy gave him a bright smile, smoothing a thumb against the backs of battle-worn knuckles, "But it is the season of life. And that is truly something to cherish, is it not?"
If she said so.
Is that why it was beautiful? Because it was 'Life?'
What a curious thought.
Natsu closed his eyes, taking a moment to feel the warm summer air breezing over his face. He sat there with the human woman, her hand still settled over the back of his. A gentle touch, so light, he was almost unaware it was there. If not for the fact she would occasionally twitch her fingers, he wouldn't have noticed it there at all.
A hesitant smile drew over his face. It was ghost-like and hard to see, only noticeable if one were to look at him at just the right angle. A smile was hardly unusual on his face, but they often sprang about due to some mischievous trick he played. That, or the amount of damage or suffering he caused to those around him for sport.
This was a different smile. Almost there, and almost not. Lucy noticed it, but said nothing, thinking the demon had a pretty smile if only he would let one cross his face more often.
Oblivious to her thoughts, the demon directed his face to the sun.
Natsu thought he preferred the summer.
Before Natsu realized it, the season had come and gone. Leaves began to turn deep hues of orange, flowers losing their petals and drying up into husks. Harvest began in the nearby village and those who farmed were kept busy from dawn until dusk. When the night dwellers cried out at the moon, signifying the time where demons ruled the night, that was when the humans scurried home to the safety of their hearths.
Natsu feared no such time, as such stood out under the great Rainbow Cherry Tree standing tall and proud on the temple grounds. He was joined by Lucy. The priestess was as fearless as the strongest demons and unafraid of the dark. Then again, he was escorting her, what did she have to fear?
Even knowing who and what he was, Lucy held no fear for him. It was a foolish sentiment for her to expound so much trust in him. She claimed he had every opportunity to kill her and hadn't. Thus she had no reason to fear for her life.
He just didn't feel like killing her without solving the mystery that was his caretaker. Natsu disliked unfinished puzzles. Although if he thought about it, his endurance in picking her apart was remarkable. He was as impatient as the fire he controlled. With most things he lost interest but found himself exercising considerable restraint with Lucy.
Of course she was no longer his caretaker. She hadn't been for weeks. Natsu healed at a much faster rate than others, but had chosen to stay. His curiosity burned at him, begging for answers to explain the strange human that was Lucy. If he thought about it any longer, he may have even gone as far as say he found her company a refreshing change from the demons he partook with.
She looked up at the sight of the last of the rainbow blossoms falling down around them in a glittering rain. One pale hand reached out to snatch a ruby red petal from the air, the glowing in her palm as bright and vibrant as a beating heart.
"It is a shame summer is over so soon," Lucy collected more petals in her hands, the rainbow of colors glowing in her spread palms. She walked over to the demon and spilled the loose petals into his hands. Natsu watched them glow in fascination.
"Because it is 'life'?" Natsu asked with a teasing air, a hint of mischief in his eyes, a slow smirk curling at the corners of his lips. Lucy smiled at the way he repeated the lesson she taught him so many months ago.
"So you were listening!"
"Perhaps. It was quite boring."
Lucy let out a small giggle, a sound that Natsu listened to with fascination. He had heard laughs before. Loud, cruel sounds. Mocking at those who begged both him and the demons in his guild to spare their lives. A trickle of unease spread along his spine. It went ignored.
Natsu was too busy memorizing the tinkling laugh that came from Lucy. A curious, happy sound.
He made her laugh?
He liked the sound.
Unknown to him, a smile spread over his face, answering her smile with one of his own. The force of Lucy's smile widened, her hands coming out to cup the bottoms over his hands. Rainbow petals swirled around them, the remainder of their beauty catching in their hair and clothes.
"M'lord, you have such rude manners, dismissing a lady when she speaks to you so properly," Lucy leveled a scandalized glare on him, the mocking glint in her eyes a curious sign to show she was not serious.
Feeling playful, he leaned in closer to her, the wind catching the petals in his palm and blowing them upward in a spiral. His eyes turned to watch them pass away for a moment before they returned to Lucy.
"I see no lady here," He purred.
It earned him another scandalized gasp and a light swat to his arm. Her touch was light on his hot skin, a welcome warm touch against the chill that began to set in with the dying season.
Lucy let out another ringing laugh and she called him an unflattering name for a donkey. A swell of something bubbled in Natsu's chest, unable for him to contain…
…and he was laughing right alongside her.
Once their laughter subsided, Natsu stared at Lucy as together they craned their necks up at the dark sky. With summer leaving, it was still warm enough outside they could get away with sitting on the bare porch, their shoulders brushing together from the simple movement of looking at the sky.
"I love the night sky," Lucy murmured. Her hand found his, and lifted it over their heads. Curling his hand in a fist and pointing out his index finger, she began to trace patterns in the sky. At first he didn't understand what she was doing, but everything became clear shortly after.
"This is Lyra," She acknowledged, a smile drawing over her face, "She sings the most beautiful melodies, enough to make even the hardest heart melt. And there is Plue, next to the guiding star of Polarias where my village is from. They are my dear friends."
She traced out Andromeda next, claiming while she had not met the spirit, she looked forward to the day she could greet her. Then, she dragged his hand to the far right, tracing half a pattern through the air. This was her way of introducing him to Taurus. A perverted bull but with a kind heart and mighty swing.
He watched her out of the corner of his eye, not quite understanding what they were doing together but somehow enjoying it all the same. This odd human he planned to one day kill. The one he just laughed with. The one who was showing him the stars.
Blond hair tucked behind one ear, a fiery gold that reminded him of the day. A reminder to Natsu that the sun would rise in a few hours. Even in the darkest pit of night, the sun would illuminate those shadows. It would chase away the night-dwellers and open the doors to humans to safely walk in the day.
Fiery and passionate, the warmth of the sun could penetrate even the coldest heart. Natsu's eyes dragged over Lucy.
While she might have favored the silvery moon and the diamond-like stars…
Natsu preferred the sun.
Before he was even aware, a new season came and left, fall giving way to the frigid bite of winter. Snow fell in fat chunks but melted before it came anywhere near Natsu. Despite his immunity to the weather, he still hated it with every fiber of his being. He hated winter, hated the cold, and hated the wet.
But he didn't bother to smother a grin when he felt a bundled weight fall against his back.
Lucy fell against him, trying to use him as a shield against the wind and cold. The elements didn't bother Natsu as he walked into town in nothing but an open tunic and loose pants tied low on his hips. Her body hid behind his, letting him serve as a buffer.
A broad smile spread over his face, his head turning towards Lucy as they walked into town together.
The battle waged between demons and dragons was almost a distant memory. He knew his kind was most likely struggling without his leadership. But END did not care about them. All he cared about was solving the mystery this human presented.
"Natsu look!" Lucy cried out in excitement, breaking loose from behind the shelter of his back to run to something she had seen through the snow drifting through the air.
He walked after her, his arms crossing over his chest when he got to where she was crouched by the frozen over riverbank. In her hands, a small blue kitten was balled into her palms.
"A demon," Natsu stared at it, sinking down on his heels to get a better look at the fluffy creature. It was tiny, with little white wings sprouting from its back. The little demon looked so small in Lucy's hands. Natsu could tell just by looking at it that it was one of the more non-violent types out there. Not like Deliora or Lullaby.
"He's cold Natsu," Lucy pushed the demon off into his hands, ignoring his scowl and frown of displeasure, "Warm him up!"
Not seeing a reason to disagree, Natsu raised the temperature of the wet feline, drying him off in a cloud of mist. Large black eyes opened to stare up at Natsu, then back at Lucy. Its tiny ears pricked up towards the air and the cat's wings fluttered madly to float up through the air to burrow into Natsu's hair.
"Aye!" It squeaked.
Even Natsu was a little surprised by the feline, a grin crossing his face at the tiny warmth settled in his hair. His small presence was a welcome change in the chilly air.
"Look at how happy he made you!" Lucy smiled at Natsu, a sly grin flickering wider over her face at the embarrassed growl he made. He turned his head to look away from her, his cheeks beginning to turn an odd shade of pink. She didn't miss how his hand lifted to settle over the kitten on his head, gentle and protective so not to jostle him.
The big bad demon.
"Maybe that's what I should call him then," Natsu announced, dark eyes flicking back towards Lucy, "Happy."
The gentle weight of Lucy leaning against his shoulder caught his attention. His face drew towards hers, a smile on her face that was just as warm as the fire burning in his chest. What a strange feeling it was. Pale hands tucked around one of his crossed arms, fingers frozen to the touch but warming fast against his skin. Her shoulder tucked against his, calm certainty in her eyes.
"Natsu, lets go home?"
He blinked at the word. Home.
What an odd phrase.
Why did it make him feel so warm?
"Okay," He grinned at her, the smile finding its way to his face before he could stop it.
The spread of winter might have been a plague on the world itself, but there was one thing Natsu could not deny…
He preferred the company it brought.
When spring came around, Natsu rushed out onto the temple grounds with Happy flying around his head. Together they fell to the floor in a dramatic heap to kiss the ground, overjoyed by the prospect the ground was no longer frozen.
Happy rolled over in the springy green grass next to Natsu, the tiny demon nuzzling against the older one's side. A low laugh came from Natsu and a tanned hand buried into soft blue fur. He crooked a content smile at his tiny friend. Together they turned their faces towards the springtime sun, soaking in its warmth.
"Hey Natsu," Happy's innocent voice broke through the sleepy atmosphere seeping into his bones.
"Where's Lucy?" The kitten asked, crawling forward onto Natsu's bicep, setting tiny paws on his shoulder. He fought back a smile at the feel of his negligible weight but grinned when the feline circled around to set his paws in his hair and lean over his face.
"She went into town to treat a kid with a sickness they caught from the village over," He grinned at Happy, feeling quite content just laying here. There was plenty of time for him to train and play with Happy since the chores around the temple had already been done.
"Is she bringing back fish to eat!" Happy asked with an eager twitch of his tail.
"Probably!" Natsu grinned back at him, "I bet she's got a whole basket full of fish for you!"
With that Natsu thought Happy would fall into a cat nap like he normally did at around this time. However he was surprised when he felt the velvety soft paws drop on his cheeks again. It encouraged Natsu to open his eyes, giving the feline a confused look.
"Hey Natsu, your name is really END isn't it?" Happy asked, his tail twitching with nerves.
Wow, it had been a while since he heard that name. Natsu lifted himself up onto his elbows and glanced at Happy.
"Yeah, it is. Why?" He asked him. A trickle of unease was beginning to slide down his spine. He didn't know why, but something was telling him that the innocent feline was about to say something Natsu wasn't going to like. Call him a masochist, but he wanted to hear it.
"I thought END was supposed to be scary," Happy asked in a quiet voice, walking around to climb onto Natsu's lap. Immediately his hand fell between two, pointed blue ears, "Did Lucy do something to you?"
"Do something?" Natsu frowned at the small demon. Happy turned around in his lap and looked at him, "Like what?"
"You know, like human priestesses have all kinds of holy magic for healing and expelling demons," Happy waved his stubby arms, "I thought she might have taken the scary out of you!"
Natsu gaped at Happy and shook his head.
"Impossible, she is not a powerful enough holy mage to do anything like that to me," Natsu said, but uncertainty made him sound less sure of himself than normal.
While it was true Lucy wasn't powerful enough to expel him at once, there was a chance she could do it day by day.
Was he really that different than he was that first day he stumbled into the temple?
The answer was obvious.
His heart froze in his chest, horror sliding through his veins in a wave of ice.
What had turned into a passing interest to satisfy his curiosity about the woman, it had turned into a residency. The change was not sudden, but he was taking care of cats, cleaning up a temple, and watching over a human priestess.
Like some kind of pet.
A guard dog.
What—What happened to him? Somewhere along the line he stopped being a demon to be feared and became something else. Something Natsu couldn't even recognize.
Somehow he learned to smile, to laugh, to play, to speak and joke, to make friends, and to lov—
He cut the thought off there, because for all the miracles Lucy could preform, that was not one of them. Demons of his caliber were not capable of love. It was what weakened them, made it all the easier for them to be destroyed. Thus Zeref had not given demons such as Natsu the ability to love.
Betrayal dug at his heart as he realized the woman he had spent so much time with had been changing him one step at a time. Using her holy magic to twist him from one shape into another, doing so with a gentle hand so Natsu would never be able to tell.
She was no different from the other holy mages that planned to eradicate him.
Only this one was using methods Natsu never deemed possible.
It was humiliating and infuriating to realize he had been played so thoroughly. Happy's innocent words a dagger in his heart, twisting between his ribs. No longer would he play this domestic game with Lucy.
He dawdled here long enough.
It was time to wash his hands of the priestess.
"Natsu, are you okay?" Happy asked. Clearly the cat had picked up on his emotions. Natsu's fingers scratched behind his ears to soothe him, despite the black anger trying to eat away at his lungs.
"I'm fine. Lets go inside now Happy."
Hours passed. They ate dinner with Lucy, Natsu unusually silent the entire time. Lucy looked concerned, but Natsu didn't breathe a word to her. Happy stared between them with nervous confusion, having a feeling he was to blame somewhere along the lines, but too young to understand it for himself.
So Natsu waited until night fell and Happy curled up in the rafters in Natsu's room. He got up from his bedroll, lifting himself from the floor to make his way to Lucy's room. Drifting like a shadow, he slid through the well-remembered hallways to hers.
It wasn't the first time he snuck into her room, but it was the first time he did so at night since the day he fell bleeding on her temple floor. Her bedroll was spread out in the center of the floor and she was already curled in it. Lucy left the sliding door leading to the porch cracked open, a slice of moonlight cutting across the room and illuminating her figure through the darkness.
Silly human. Anyone could come in.
He crushed the fondness trying to well its way in his heart, bitterness smothering it under his anger.
Natsu prowled around her bed, his hands flexing into talons. She was vulnerable and such easy prey. No hesitation was needed, if he did it fast, she wouldn't feel a thing. Sharp claws twitched over her face, hesitation drawing in his hand and preventing him from curling his fingers down. Why was he having so much trouble with this? Killing humans was as instinctive to him as breathing.
What had she done to him?
"Natsu…?" Lucy's sleepy voice broke his thoughts.
His eyes dropped to her face, dark and angry. Understanding seemed to dawn on her face and a small, accepting smile drifted over her face. Her hand fell to his wrist, pushing it out of the way with a light touch. He allowed it as he watched her sit up, his eyes sharp on the woman.
"You've come to kill me then?" Lucy asked, kneeling next to him. She dragged his clawed hand to her chest, dipping her chin back so not to offer him any resistance, "I won't stop you, and I also forgive you."
He stilled, eyes going wide and narrow in turn. Suspicion colored his face, words failing the demon.
"What have you done to me?" He asked, desperation flashing in his eyes. The urgency for an answer cracked his voice, nerves spiking in his chest. Panic bloomed through his mind, because Lucy was not worried. This human was never afraid of him. He didn't understand her.
Even now, she was unafraid of him.
What did he have to do to make her fear him?
Slender hands came to cup his cheek, soothing the fire building through his body. Some of his panic extinguished under her caress.
"The answer is simple Natsu," She slid her thumb under his eye, the feeling of the sweet touch enough to make his heart compress down into a ball, "Can't you think of the reason yourself?"
At his stubborn silence, Lucy's cheeks puffed out in annoyance and she pulled their faces together, ignoring the talons drifting through her hair. She rested her forehead against his, her eyes calm on the firestorm raging within Natsu.
"I loved you," She smiled at him, the answer simple but cutting all the same, "That's it."
But demons weren't capable of it.
She gave him her love knowing this? Knowing he could never feel the same for her? His eyes searched hers, the claws receding back into normal fingers. Lightly, his hands came up to cup her cheeks, reflecting her hands. This time his right palm came around to set at the base of her head, sliding through golden hair.
This served to confuse him further, but instead of growing angry, the warmth that started in his chest calmed to a gentle ember. He breathed in her comforting scent, realizing he was on the cusp of a change never seen before in demons. One where he could turn his back on Zeref and his guild.
A future where he could stay with this human for the duration of her mortal life.
He could see it.
And he could not think of a single reason why he should leave.
The distance between them closed, his nose skimming against her cheek. Her breath caught, a sharp sound that sent a shudder of heat burning anew in his chest. It was different from the one born of anger he had nurtured earlier.
Her body pressed in close to his, her night robes thin enough for Natsu to feel the warmth of her body sliding against him. He steadied her with a hand to the small of her back, locking her in against him.
"You should know better than to love a demon," He growled a soft warning into her ear. Lucy's body trembled, her lips skimming against his cheek as a soft, delightful noise escaped her. Slow as if not to startle him, her hands lifted. One to grasp tightly onto his shoulder, the other to bury in rosy hair.
"I have never been one to play by the rules, priestess or not," Lucy breathed back, her mouth catching against the sensitive skin behind his ear. His throat worked in a furious movement, tension coiling in the pit of his stomach and tightening through his chest.
A slow smirk flashed over his face, advancing over her to crowd Lucy backwards into her bedding. His hand remained steady on her back to ease her descent back into her covers, following her with warning eyes.
"Sounds like my kind of adventure Lucy," He purred. He could hear her heart hammering in the space between them. Natsu could almost taste her in the air between them, the scent of her thickening interest enough to drive a fog in his mind.
"Will you stay?" Lucy breathed.
Natsu nodded. They weren't talking about him living in the temple anymore. That much was clear. He had a feeling the decision was made since the moment she saved him from the brink of death, "I will."
Once Lucy had told him spring was the season of love. The time of beginnings.
As the demon descended on the priestess, he couldn't help but realize they were beginning something new. What an odd couple they made, demon and priestess.
Nothing about this being forbidden crossed his mind. He closed the distance between them, capturing Lucy's mouth and sealing his fate. Never did he think as a demon he would worry about damning himself to hell. But for this priestess, he supposed they would both take the journey together.
He thought he would prefer that.
Happiness wasn't easy to pin down. It was the press of her lips against his skin. The softness of her body rolling in time with his own. The light touches after they were done twisting together. The way her fingers slid through his hair, twining around the horns curling from his head. The whisper of her words in his ear when she thought he was asleep.
He was a demon, but she was no angel either.
How strange was it for this little mortal star to chain down END and tame his raging. END, the most fearsome of Zeref's demons…
A pain spread in his heart, a steady burn he could not hope to ignore. Nor did he want to. What was it? Was he ill? If he was, he had no desire to be well.
Summer was the season of life. Soon it found them again, together and content. He lost track of how many harvests he spent with Lucy. One? Four? Seven?
It never mattered to him. Together with Lucy, they worked out an alliance with the fairies. Enough to garner an audience with Igneel himself.
Once the two fire users had angrily fought on opposite sides, they now sat in front of one another negotiating terms to end the war between their races. It required Natsu learning more about dragons, and Igneel keeping from interfering in demonic affairs.
Slowly, the world began to change. The first unsteady steps of peace were taken between their groups, and Natsu was amazed he could stand before Igneel and not want to rip out a stripe of his scaly hind. Lucy's gentle hand on his shoulder was restraining enough to keep his anger at bay.
Igneel watched the interaction with an acute interest, believing the demon had found a match in Lucy.
The steps to peace were never taken easily though, and there were those among Natsu's council that rebelled against the idea.
Enough to take drastic measures.
The attack from Zeref had come at night. The dark wizard came to the temple, coming to collect the payment Natsu owed him. The death Zeref yearned for. As such, Natsu was occupied when his world fell apart.
Dark crimson stained Natsu's hands, his palms pressed tightly against the wound in Lucy's chest. Raw denial flooded his mind as he knelt besides her broken body, trying to stem the blood. It was so deep, and his mind thought wildly to cauterize the wound.
Seeds and vines were in the wounds, and Natsu knew he had been too late even as he dropped next to her, bloody from his own battle with his creator. Her shaky hands slid against his cheek, a smear of blood sliding across his cheek where her hand rested.
"Do not cry Natsu," Lucy gasped. There was a wet sounding rasp in the back of her throat. More gurgle than words. Natsu's stomach flipped at the sound.
"Silly human, demon's do not cry," His said with tight horror. He fought for a smile despite the boiling in his eyes. Natsu's voice did not shake. It did not tremble. He did not cry, "It is raining."
The priestess looked up at the summer sun, shining overhead. Her bloody lips curled at the corners and she nodded, "I see that."
"You will be fine of course," Natsu tried to pull the thorny vines from her injuries, trying to see through the haze of red and mist clouding his eyes, "You will be a strange little human that pesters me and makes Happy fish for many seasons to come."
Lucy's laughter came in a weak, wet noise that morphed into an ugly cough. Natsu's heart clenched and the burning tears he held back finally rolled down his cheeks. Her words came in stuttering pauses, "I am – afraid not Natsu. I believe this –is where – my journey ends."
Denials bubbled up in Natsu's throat, but not even he could deny the proof that laid out before him. Vines were twisting from open wounds, wrapping around her body. Natsu's burned them away, but for each one that was destroyed, two more took its place.
"Lucy you cannot die," He finally cried, his head bowing over her. His claws tore at the vines, trying to free her from their hold, "You made me better."
The priestess shook her head, an exhausted smile fading the light in brown eyes.
"You did that for yourself Natsu," She croaked, her fingers reaching for him.
Unguarded denial swept through Natsu. On it, the soul-cracking realization that he had changed for her. He had become a better person for her. Because…
Because he loved her.
Her words and lessons and love all floated to the top of his mind, reminding him of his new name the day she first called him 'Natsu.'
"You cannot die – it is summer," He repeated, his reasoning sounding childish even to his own ears. Tears dripped down his chin, pooling on the top of this hands clutched around the plants stealing her from him, "You said it meant life!"
Lucy's eyes dimmed, her breathing growing shallow. She pulled him in close, a sad smile on her face. A gentle kiss brushed across his mouth, bloodied and bittersweet.
"Even summer – " Her voice faded, body growing limp beneath him, "—ends"
Breath faded away from her lips, Natsu's heart aching with unbearable pain. And he realized in that terrible moment, she had done the impossible.
She had made the demon fall in love, her light like a bright star in a dark night.
He would have preferred a darker sun.
Remember when I said I made it end nice snogfairy? I lied